Creating an irresistible ecommerce brand doesn’t happen overnight. When Chase Fisher first started Blenders Eyewear in 2012, it was a two-person side business.
Since then, he’s grown the team to 8 people and Blenders’ Instagram following to nearly 100K. He’s also extended the product range from the beach to the slopes: snow goggles now sit beside their trademark personality-filled sunglasses.
Much of their success has been due to the authenticity of their brand — and their ability to connect and share that brand with customers. It’s not enough to just have a great story to tell and a brand that you want to take to the next level. You’ve got to do something about it.
We talked to Chase to find out the recipe for actively building out an authentic, successful, and much-loved brand — and now we’re sharing it with you here.
1. Stand in the place where you are
The Blenders Eyewear HQ is on Pacific Beach in sunny San Diego, California — just a few minutes from the beach. “San Diego has a very active and vibrant lifestyle, amazing beaches and is the mecca of California culture” Chase says. ”A lot of trends start here, so you’re you’re ahead of the curve on coming up with your own slogans and catchphrases. Our sunglasses are very flashy and very fun, so it fits really well with our San Diego style.” The location continually inspires and reflects back the brand.
Sure, it’s easy to do this in a beautiful place like San Diego — but every location has something that makes it unique. Look around and figure out what’s special about where you are, and how to bring that into your brand’s story.
2. Leave no customer touchpoint unturned
Use every interaction with customers to reinforce the company’s voice and the brand. For example, one of the Blenders Eyewear abandoned cart emails creates a sense of urgency by referencing a San Diego staple, guacamole. The email reminds customers to hurry up and get back to their order: “Like guac in the fridge, it only lasts a few days.”
“It’s so relatable because it’s so true,” says Chase. And it also helps drive home the Southern California vibe. Most importantly, going the extra mile for typically generic-sound touchpoints shows customers how much you care.
3. Choose goat-rific product names
“We have so much fun in naming the products, coming up with funny, unique names that we think would appeal to customers and get their attention,” says Chase. “We have a pair of shades called The Tipsy Goat, and it’s literally our bestselling pair.”
But product names actually serve double duty. They don’t just extend the brand for customers and drive sales — they also add to the atmosphere at the company itself. “So the name ‘Tipsy Goat’ gets said around our office at least a hundred times a day,” Chase says. “It’s hilarious, but it also works.”
4. Make sure the price is right
Blenders Eyewear deliberately chose an affordable price range for their products that drives home their carefree ethos. Yes, they could’ve priced them higher. But being able to use price to reinforce the carefree spirit of the brand? Priceless.
“I think the price point really helps us say, ‘You know what, we don’t take our lives too seriously,’” Chase says. “We pride ourselves on being vibrant and outgoing and following your passions — and knowing that if you lose your sunglasses or break them, it’s not gonna crush your bank account.”
5. Show your true colors
“Our distributors told us we had to get more simple and appeal to more people,” Chase says. “But we don’t want to appeal to everyone. We don’t want to be the brand that just has black and grey. We want personality, we want flavor, and we want to be able to show that.”
There will always be people who tell you to be more like everybody else and take fewer risks. Blenders Eyewear stood strong in the face of advice to tone down their design and color choices and benefited as a result. When you get pressured to make your product line more generic, don’t just cave. Think hard about what sets you apart and consider the costs of giving that up.
6. Keep the camera running
When you’re channeling the real deal, don’t miss a chance to show the world. If that means getting out the video camera, do it! “We can tell more stories that way and connect with our customers and show some behind-the-scenes and really go that extra mile,” Chase says.
“With our videos, we can say, ‘Here’s our backyard in San Diego. Here’s our team shipping your products, here are the people that are making your products. It helps connect our customers with us and make them feel as close to the brand as we are.”
7. Be true to your roots
The connections between Blenders Eyewear and San Diego surfing culture run deep (yes, that’s really him in the picture). In college Chase was on the San Diego State surf team. After he graduated, he says, “I had to put food on the table, so I worked as a surf instructor and coached the local junior high teams.”
Having an authentic network in the community paid off: “I had a good, real, solid footprint on the beach here and was able to build the brand locally at first, spread it through San Diego. And now we’re kind of expanding all over the country and we’re selling in multiple countries.” You don’t have to be an expert surfer to have a deep network to tap into — you just have to look around and see the connections that are already there.
8. Realize it’s winter somewhere
Navigating the line between sharing your unique company culture and being relatable can be tricky — but it’s worth the effort. “When we first started, we we basically promoted summer all year round,” Chase says. “Then we realized that in December and January, 80% of America is not 75 degrees. It’s not sunny, it’s usually wet and cold and snowy.”
Blenders Eyewear still celebrates San Diego in the winter — but has broadened the focus to include the design and art scene, which is less seasonally focused: “Now we tailor the brand to really push San Diego in the right ways, in a way people can relate to year-round.”
9. Above all, take good care of your customers
Creating strong connections through social media isn’t an afterthought for a company like Blenders Eyewear. It’s a powerful channel for customer acquisition and retention, not to mention showcasing happy customers.
“Success for us is really making the customer happy, and making sure that whenever they hear about us, it’s in a positive light,” says Chase. “So we like to consider customers as family, and really like to build on that and reinforce that strong base every single day.”
California, surfing, and product images courtesy of Blenders Eyewear.